tv Countdown With Keith Olbermann MSNBC March 10, 2010 8:00pm-9:00pm EST
yesterday's news are those here who disagree with the u.s. policy of trying to find a two-state solution and they are certainly entitled to that position and to that reaction. but far more distressing, the yuan person who was absolutely thrilled, the man who's been slowly and deliberately building the battle lines in this part of the world between the islamic world and israel, between anti-israel and israel is the man who will love the new level of anger by palestinians and by those who believe they have a just claim on nationhood. that man who loves the news of yesterday is ahmadinejad. he will exploit what happened here to the hilt. join us again tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 eastern for more "hardball." right now it's time for "countdown with keith olbermann." which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? on the road again. president obama continues his final push for health care reform, this time in st. louis.
>> the time for talk is over. it's time to vote. >> as next week's white house-imposed deadline to pass reform draws near, will the president's 11th hour sales pitch work? and will the house meet the looming deadline? >> that's our objective. >> the co-chair of the progressive caucus, congressman lynn woolsey joins us. >> are you gay? >> well, here's that answer. i'm not going to answer that. in year 2010, why don't you ask my wife, ask my friends, ask the 10,000 sailors i served with in the navy. >> turns out someone did. eric massa's naval colleagues go on the record. they claim massa groped, harassed, and made unwanted advances during his time in the service. we'll talk to the man who broke the story, josh green of "the atlantic." spending time with realtimes bill maher. we'll talk massa, tickle fights, and a sex term that bill maher has never heard of. >> i've never heard this term, snorkeling. tell me what snorkeling is.
it does sound dirty. plus, the continued crumbling of eric massa's media tour. the more he tries to set the record straight, the less straight it gets. >> i groped a male staffer. yeah, i did! not only did i grope him, i tickled him until he couldn't breathe and then four guys jumped on top of me. >> all the news and commentary now on "countdown"! good evening from new york. i'm lawrence o'donnell in for keith olbermann. one week from tomorrow is the deadline president obama set for the house to pass the senate health care bill and send it to him for his signature. today, president obama flew to missouri to press his case for exactly that, and it will not be his last trip to stump for the health care bill, with more stops due next week. but today he was at st. charles high school in st. louis. traveling there with missouri
senator claire mccaskill, who is not up for re-election and likely glad of that, but still got all the boosting president obama could muster, especially when he announced that he is supporting a republican idea to have more outside auditors pore over medicare and medicaid payments and give them a finder's fee for waste and fraud that they find. a pilot program that has already recovered almost $1 billion in three states. >> earlier today, with claire looking over my shoulder, one of our auditors in chief, i signed an order calling on all federal agencies to launch these kinds of audits all across the country. >> and while house speaker nancy pelosi, according to politico, told the white house that she was not happy about the president's march 18th deadline for passing the senate bill, she told reporters today, she is pretty close to bringing the bill to the floor for a vote and
said, decision time is here. a sentiment echoed by the president. >> i believe that congress owes the american people a final up or down vote on health care reform. the time for talk is over. it's time to vote! it's time to vote! tired of talking about it. >> president obama addressed head-on senate republican leader mitch mcconnell's recent warnings that republican congressional candidates will make political hay out of health care reform this november if democrats vote for it. the president laughed at the notion that the republican was offering sincere political advice to democrats, but also admitted that he could not actually say whether mcconnell is wrong. >> i heard the republican leader
of the senate the other day. he's warning democrats, you better be careful about voting for this, it could hurt you. i don't know how sincere the republican leader is about the best interests of democrats, he's been very generous with advice. you know what, here's the bottom line, st. charles, i don't know how the politics play. >> for the state of play in the house, joining us tonight is congressman lynn woolsey, cochair of the house progressive caucus. congressman, thank you for your time tonight. let me start by asking you whether president obama's campaigning, his speech making out there on the road is moving, wavering house democrats to yes? >> well, i think the entire debate that's been going on for, what, a year or so, has reached a point where we're glad to hear the president speak out and say what's on his mind and what he
wants us to do and get the country revved up, but i don't think it's going to change a lot of minds. i think what he's saying is, let's get this done and let's get it done now, is exactly the right message. >> there are reports today that republican leadership plans to use every vote you cast against you, especially the vote for the senate bill, which includes the special senate vote-buying deals for nebraska, louisiana, florida. how will house democrats respond to those attacks? >> well, i think the house democrats have to trust that the people that they represent, the people of this country understand that we're going to vote for something and then we're going to fix it in the very next vote. and the people of this country, they aren't dumb. i mean, they know what's going on. and if we just explain it to them, i think we'll come out ahead. because, you see, over 30 million people will have health insurance that don't have it now, once we've completed this. >> and so the explanation going to be, i voted for it before i
voted against it? >> i guess that's what it is. what i'm saying is, i will vote for the senate bill, knowing we're going to fix it at the very next vote. >> now, speaker pelosi said today you're pretty close to getting the senate bill on the floor. does that mean you're also pretty close getting the guarantees you need from the senate, about them passing a corrective package in reconciliation? and what kind of guarantees do you need? >> well, actually, we need an agreement between the speaker and the leader that what we want to see in the reconciliation package will be what is in it. and there will be no going back on their word. and i believe that once they tell us this is it, this is what we're going to agree to, they will stay with it. >> is all the controversy now in the senate about the senate parliamentarian throwing some scares into the house of representatives, meaning that in the senate, in reconciliation,
the parliamentarian there can rule certain provisions out of order, and then to keep them in the bill, it takes 60 votes in the senate to do that, which the democrats obviously don't have. so, are house members starting to get worried that they might be able to pass the version of the reconciliation bill that they want, but the senate, because of the parliamentarian there, will not be able to pass the same reconciliation bill? >> well, of course, that's a concern. whoever thought, first of all, it takes 60 votes to make a majority instead of 50, and then if one person can stand up in the senate and stop everything, and now the parliamentarian can have more power than the whole house of representatives? i'm totally furious over the fact that that's supposed to be a democracy. we have to do something about all of that. but, yes, it is a concern. >> well, "the huffington post" today quoted union leaders now saying that they will go after democrats who stand in the way
of health care reform, but with democrats poised to lose seats in the upcoming election, can your party allow its allies in labor to attack any house democrats? >> well, i would hope they wouldn't, but i would also hope that the great majority of democrats are going to understand that we either pass health care reform or we stand with the republicans and defeat it, and as soon as we pass it, we can get going to fix it, to make it even better. so i think we'll be pretty pleased that democrats are going to understand this when we get down to the final votes. >> now, as the head of the progressive caucus, does it surprise you that one of the most notable progressives in the house, dennis kucinich, on this show, this week has said that he will vote against the senate bill, that it is not a progressive's bill, that it does not meet his standards, that it does not deliver -- he delivered a point-by-point attack, basically, on the democratic
talking points on this bill. does he represent one vote and are you completely counting him out at this stage? >> dennis represents dennis. he ran for president. he's a unique, independent human being, but we aren't -- the progressive caucus isn't waiting to see what dennis kucinich is going to do before we decide what we're going to do, as individuals and as a caucus. >> congressman lynn woolsey, cochair of the house progressive caucus, thank you for your time tonight. >> thank you for having me. >> now let's bring in ezra klein, who covers domestic and economic policy for "the washington post" and is a columnist now as "newsweek." ezra, welcome back. senator kent conrad said today that it would be difficult to give the house any kind of guarantee that the senate would pass a companion reconciliation bill if the house passes the senate bill. was that a setback for fastracking the senate bill through the house next week? >> you know, it all depends by
what you think kent conrad means by "difficult." a lot of difficult things so far have been completed. what people think the house is probably going to get is a letter signed by the correct number of senators saying, look, we're going to do this. but, you know, this gets to a real fundamental problem in the process right now, which is when these two wings of the same party don't trust one another enough to sort of say, okay, we're going to hold hands at the same time and jump. >> now, speaking of senate votes, the president went from the speech today to a fund-raiser for senator mccaskill. is this plane ride today and this speech all about just getting clair mccaskill's vote for the reconciliation bill? >> you know, i would be surprised to see senator mccaskill off the reconciliation bill, but i think everything the president's doing now is sort of all of it, right? he's trying to get the votes, he's trying to shore up the base, he's trying to get the folks who are running in the midterms a little bit more campaign money so they win. it's part of a big, complex game. it's a lot bigger than health care pharma at this point. so i think you're seeing the campaign move out. and one side note to that is missouri's an important state,
right? so there are a lot of house members in missouri. there's a lot you could be doing by trying to jump into that media market, beyond senator mccaskill. but mccaskill may be the safest way to do it. >> now, i'm having trouble thinking of a legislative campaign where speech making made any difference at all. in fact, you can normally -- when the clintons tried this, you could track that the popularity of the bill declined with every speech that bill or hillary clinton gave. we saw a similar pattern last year, 2009, on this. the same thing happened with george w. bush when he was trying to sell social security reform. the more he talked about it, the more the popularity went down. is there any -- i can't -- can you think of a campaign where this kind of external speech making around the country, in the final closing stages of getting legislative votes on the hill, where those speeches made any difference? >> i cannot. i would say two things about this. one is that you actually see tightening in the polls on health care reform, which really surprised me. i thought things were pretty cemented. but in the last week or so, actually past the summit, you've
seen the support go up a bit and the opposition go down a bit. so that's one data point. the other is that a lot of this speech making is trying to control the media. it isn't just trying to move people. at this point, people aren't going to move that often. but it's trying to make sure that the president is in the headlines, that the process isn't dominating everything, that it's not all sort of what did kent conrad say today and what did mitch mcconnell say he was going to do to derail the reconciliation process. so it's a really multilayered game that everybody's playing right now and quite a bit of the time, things don't mean or are not meant to deal what they seem to mean or meant to do. >> now, republicans are playing a mind game on house democrats, it's a very easy one to play. they're trying to make house democrats doubt that the senate can pass a reconciliation bill, to correct all the bad things that they're being asked to vote for in the senate bill. and trying to get house members to doubt that the senate will do what it's supposed to do has always been a very, very easy thing to do. is that strategy working for republicans in the house right
now? >> it's a great example of the mult multi-layered game. so mitch mcconnell's argument is, oh, house democrats, you don't want to pass this bill, because if you pass this bill and the senate doesn't move, you'll be in much worse shape. and yet, mitch mcconnell isn't trying to help the democrats pass a bill, which in theory would make the house democrats much worse shape, thus helping mitch mcconnell's republicans in the next election. so i think house democrats are going to get a sense that maybe mitch mcconnell does not speak in their best interest, or at least it is not clear that he really believes his strategic advice he's offering to them. is he going to be effective in getting them to doubt it? probably, but they're doubting it already. so far as mitch mcconnell's advice goes, he's not acting like somebody who thinks democrats would be worse off if that bill passes. >> well, in a little-noticed move that i wrote about in "the huffington post," he entered in a unanimous consent agreement with harry reid on getting that bill passed by christmas eve, which in that unanimous consent
agreement, made it impossible for them to pass any republican amendments, which he was very, very conscious of when he made that agreement. but as we get to the finish line, ezra, do you imagine nancy pelosi's going to be willing to take this bill to the floor without having the votes, coming in with her vote count being in the low 200s, she needs ten more and she takes it to the floor to try to put the pressure on them for the final closing vote? >> nancy pelosi, to my knowledge, has never lost a vote. and i don't know if that's because she's incredibly good at whipping votes when she gets a close one on to the floor, if she's good at twisting those arms at the final moment, or if she doesn't move until she has those votes. somebody very smart to me said today, does she have the votes, and she said no, you know they have the votes when nancy pelosi takes a vote. when you see this go to the floor, nancy pelosi has a pretty good idea she can win. if they didn't think they were going to win, if they thought they were going to suffer this massive blow to their prestige and their party, they would try
to let it die quietly while they go to jobs. >> ezra klein of "the washington post" and "newsweek," thank you very much for your time tonight. >> thank. coming up, last night former congressman eric massa said the men he served with in the navy would tell us the truth. so we'll see how that's working out for him. and later, bill maher joins us to discuss the unraveling of congressman massa, including exactly what kind of snorkeling did that guy do in the navy. how do we know how how many town roads we need? the census helps us know exactly what we need, so everyone can get their fair share of funding. we can't move forward until you mail it back. 2010 census. 2010 census. hi, ellen! hi, ellen! hi, ellen! hi, ellen!
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former congressman eric massa was a little inappropriate in some of his answers to glenn beck last night, wait until you hear what massa's former navy bunk mates have to say about him. and then you're going to hear what hbo's bill maher has to say about that. that's ahead. prescription hist. automatically refill prescriptions for you and your family. get e-mail reminders when prescriptions are ready for pick-up. enjoy free shipping...
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it turns out tickle fights and naked shower fights were just the tip of the iceberg. now the eric massa story gets even stranger. but only at the former congressman's request. >> it may be silly, but i guess we have to ask it. are you gay? >> well, here's that answer -- i'm not going to answer that. in year 2010 -- why don't you ask my wife? ask my friends, ask the 10,000 sailors i served with in the navy. >> unfortunately for eric massa, one reporter has done just that. and a few of those sailors have come forward. joshua green of "the atlantic" has spoken with some of the former congressman's naval shipmates, those men telling him, among other things, that massa was notorious for making
unwanted advances towards subordinates. one of massa's navy shipmates, peter clark, told green about an incident involving massa and his friend, stuart borsch. "stuart's at the edge of the bed and massa starts massaging him. massa said, you'll have to get one of my special messages. he called them massa massages." clarke told green that tom massfield was also touched by massa. "tom lived on the upper bunk. when you're on ship, you're almost exhausted 24/7, so a lot of time you sleep with your uniform on. tom and massa shared a stateroom together. massa climbed up on the top of his bunk, which is hard to do -- you never crawl up on somebody else's bunk. he wakes up to massa undoing his pants and trying to snorkel him
him." "countdown" researchers have found several definitions for this kind of snorkeling on urban dictionary.com, so take your pick. stuart borsch, the purported recipient of an unwanted massa massage did not address that specific incident with green, but confirmed that he was groped by massa. "in 1990 aboard the "uss jouette," i was awaked when a senior officer, lieutenant commander massa, seemed to be groping me. i was a lieutenant at. the time. i believe he may have been drinking. i shouted at him and he left. i mentioned the incident to several other officers. i did not officially report it." one of massa's shipmates, ron moss, described him as "a cocky guy, competent, but he saw himself as a future admiral. it doesn't surprise me he wound up in congress." joining me now is josh green, senior editor for "the atlantic." did any of these men report any
of the incidents at the time? >> not at the time. they talked about it among themselves. but massa was third in charge among these ships. this was a senior officer and they fear retaliation. massa was thought of as a guy who was sort of on the fast track to be admiral, you know, difficult to go up against that sort of thing and report it. there's an obvious kind of stigma with this kind of thing, so it wasn't reported at the time. >> and of course, it's the navy, so you can't report every one of those things on a ship. now, massa has invited your research yesterday by talking about, you know, all these guys in the navy, they can vouch for me. how hard was it for you to find people to not exactly vouch for him? >> well, not very hard. i mean, the tip came from massa himself. found some people who had been shipmates, i talked to them, it turned out there'd been the same pattern of abuse towards subordinates that we read about massa engaging in in congress. they came forward, they went on
the record, they gave, you know, statements, they corroborated each other's stories and it's pretty clear that this is something that was going on in the navy with massa as long as 20 years ago. >> now, you also found that people in the congress were not exactly shocked by this, that there were rumors, there was talk, there were people who had a feeling that this kind of thing was going on. >> yeah. i mean, one of these sailors had talked to, you know, former democratic chief of staff, had warned him that, you know, massa was a bad guy. but i don't think anybody had a real full understanding of just how kind of, you know, freaky massa was when it cams to some of his proclivities and practices towards subordinates. but, you know, doing the reporting today, i talked to a lot of former staffers of his, a lot of former navy shipmates, and it is pretty remarkable, you know, the pattern of behavior, the extent of it, and really the fact that it hasn't become public before now. >> and there's absolutely no bubble around him that protects him from this kind of information, protects us from getting this kind of information, in any way.
i mean, it seemed like -- i mean where where , you did the real work of the reporting, but you didn't have to go through 1,000 navy sailors to find somebody -- >> he didn't make it very hard. he gave me the lead on glenn beck last night. it was just a matter of picking up the phone. >> now, when the congressman resigns, there's no longer an ethics committee investigation of the congressman, but there are staff members involved in that investigation who may still be on the house payroll. is that a way to keep some form of this investigation alive by finding out what their stories are? >> i don't know. the news just broke a couple of hours ago that the house ethics committee was going to close down the investigation of massa, but i don't know yet if it's going to continue into staffers and to what other people knew at the time. if there's going to be any sort of criminal investigation, naval investigation, that sort of thing. i think that remains to be seen. >> and how do democrats think this is playing for them as they try to get serious and approach a final vote on health care reform? >> you know, i -- i think it's
pretty toxic. i think massa sort of followed the mark sanford school of crisis management, where he's going out and talked and talked and dug himself in deeper and deeper. and at this point, you know, appears more or less like sort of a lunatic. so he's kind of off doing his own thing. i don't know that this hurts democrats or republicans, particularly. i mean, his story at this point is pretty focused on, you know, massa himself. and he seems to be wanting to become sort of a republican darling at this point, you know, talking about rush limbaugh, going on glenn beck's show. so it's not really clear who has ownership of massa as a political entity, but, you know, his early claims that, you know, he was being -- you know, this was being forced upon him. he was being set up because of his vote on health care, i think that's been pretty definitively knocked down at this point. >> josh green of "the atlantic," thanks for doing the hard work of finding more people to tell more crazy stories about congressman massa. >> good to be with you, lawrence. even before these latest allegations, congressman's massa's many interviews have had
the media groping for answers. thing highlights and the lowlights, ahead. and coming up next, in the middle of a sex scandal, who better to guide us through it than bill maher? my interview with bill, next on "countdown." we love getting our outback dirty. because it seems like the dirtier it gets, the more it shines. the subaru outback®. motor trend's 2010 sport/utility of the year®. hurry in to the subaru love spring event for great deals on all models. now through march 31st. oh, just come snuggle with momma! missing something? now at sears optical, get 2 pairs of glasses for $99.99. with bifocals just $25 more per pair. sears optical. don't miss a thing.
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congressman, eric massa, and what might actually happen in d.c. if the president really tries to quit smoking. and later, a trip inside the "countdown" time capsule. the week that was for eric massa. everything you need to know in four minutes or less. and when rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest, michael moore. his take on the state of health care reform and what's going on with the efforts to fix the financial industry. the ammunition she needs: omnaris. (troops) omnaris! to the nose. (general) omnaris works differently than many other allergy medications. omnaris fights nasal allergy symptoms that occur from allergic inflammation... relieve those symptoms with omnaris. side effects may include headache, nosebleed and sore throat. her nose is at ease. we have lift off. (general) remember omnaris! ask your doctor. in the battle against nasal allergy symptoms, omnaris combats the cause.
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there is a strange, winding road that leads from former congressman eric massa to health care reform, to why president obama should quit smoking. and in a moment, bill maher obliging leads us down that road. first, a reminder that former congressman massa had truly outdone himself with that glenn beck interview, right up until the larry king interview.
and, of course, as if that weren't enough, there were today's revelations about massa, the navy, and snorkeling like you've never snorkeled before. to analyze all of the, earlier today, i spoke with bill maher, the host of hbo's "realtime with bill maher." bill, bill, bill, just pardon the expression, but thank god you're here tonight. with this eric massa thing breaking, howard fineman just wasn't feeling gay enough to talk about it tonight and you saw larry king last night, right? you saw the big interview? >> i saw part of it, yeah. >> well, i think, you know, the dean of tv interviewing, larry king, has reset the table for how this stuff is supposed to work. so my first question to you is, are you gay? >> if i was, i would be better looking. i wish i was gay. i wish i was the kind of guy
that at least people sometimes mistake for gay. but i have no doubt about this eric massa. i would just like to know, i would be very curious -- i would love to be a fly on the wall in that congressional steam room and see how many closet cases there are in this congress. i don't -- i think the vatican has less repressed homosexuals than the united states congress. >> it was amazing to listen to, wasn't it? he somehow made taking showers naked sound really gay. >> yeah. you know, there's something going on in the navy. now, look, i'm not trying to knock the navy or any military branch. they certainly do things that i haven't done for my country and they have my utmost respect, but, you know, why did the village people sing "in the navy"? there just seems to be a lot going on when you're on a ship, you're on the water, you're away from home for a long period of time. i think there's a mentality a
little like prison, maybe, you know, where we're not gay, we're just having sex with men because we're away from home for a long time. i mean, some of these things that this man describes, you know, it just -- it's always reminiscent, these guys who are repressed homosexuals of this idea that somehow, it's just sinning. you know, this is what the evangelical christian always say. well, i'm not homosexuals, it was just sinning. as if all of us men are looking to do the same thing, but we just don't, because it's sinning. you know, that story he told about being at the wedding and the guy comes up to him and says, you know, you really should be hitting on the bridesmaid. now, you know, i could think of a lot of things that i would say or a person in that position might say. like, well, i'm in congress, maybe i shouldn't be hitting on women at a wedding when i'm married, things like that. but one thing i just wopt say,
that would never cross my mind to say another man is, i really should be doing you, and then tousle his hair. you know, the other one where he comes in on the guy on the ship and he's masturbating and slaps him on the leg and says, can i help you with that? again, something i never really would do. never crossed my mind, because i'm not a sinner. see, lawrence, i'm not a sinner. >> i get it. there's more news today from the navy, bill. it turns out that one of the guys on the ship with him says that massa was known for giving massa massages and the occasional groping here and there. and then they talked about this thing, again, it's a navy thing, which they call snorkeling. it has to do with bunk beds and the guy in the upper bunk. but when you were in the navy, did they do that? can you explain that to us? >> well, i was not in the navy and i was in college when the record came out from the village people. i didn't even really catch on to
the reference there. i had to be a little older before i got it. i've never heard this term "snorkeling" -- >> no, no, wait a minute. we have to stop. there's a sexual term that bill maher has never heard before today? >> right. >> wow. >> and i believe i coined dirty sanchez. >> you did. >> no, i've never -- i've never heard snorkeling. and i didn't read the story today, so i'd really appreciate being enlightened, if you could tell me what snorkeling is. i mean, it does sound dirty. right away -- >> all we really know, bill -- >> yeah, go ahead. >> is that it involves a guy in a top bunk and a guy in a bottom bunk, and probably some symbolic form of snorkeling, as opposed to an actual snorkel going into anyone's mouth. >> i'm just glad there are no glass coffee tables on
submarines. that's all i'll say. between this and teabagging, it kind of reminds me of when clinton was being impeached, remember, and the republicans were saying all sorts of things like, gosh, it's terrible. kids can't watch tv nowadays without parents having to explain to them these horrible, sexual acts. well, it's kind of like that again. what does junior say -- mommy, you told me to watch the news. what happens when you're teabagging and you want to snorkel? what sort of thing is -- >> i am not sure that can be done. but we'll need someone in the navy to tell us whether it can. but one of the guys in the navy also said today, who served if the navy with massa said today, and this is a quote, he said, it doesn't surprise me that he wound up in congress. now, isn't that congress' problem, that america isn't surprised he ended up in congress either. this is the kind of guy they think ends up in congress and that's one of the problems when
congress asks americans if they wouldn't mind congress tampering with the health care system. >> right. well, of course, you know, we always laugh at the politicians, and we should. i'm glad we have them, especially as a comedian, it's great fodder. this is why it was so amusing to me when people said, when bush was leaving office, do you think comedy will be able to continue? yes, i think it will be able to continue. because there's this endless supply of people like eric massa. but, you know, you kind of have to look at the people themselves. they vote for people like that, because what is their criteria when they get if the booth? it's very rarely to elect the smartest guy. they elect just this unending parade of creeps and ignoramuses. i know. you know, because you talk to them all the time. most people don't talk to their congressmen. i talk to people who come on this show, and there are some people who are very bright, but there are some people you go, wow, there's just nothing going on above the neck, is there?
you won this office because you spouted some platitudes somebody wrote on a car, you wore a flag pin, you said the right thing, you didn't step in any of the ditches that they laid out for you, didn't touch a third rail, and that's why you're in congress, but you're an idiot. and when i see this creep give every possible excuse that he could, when he was first defending himself, i thought, wow, he goes right down the list. first, he blames it on health. then he mentions his family. then it's the climate in washington. i thought, okay, are we going to get to "personal responsibility" are you going to get to that part? and darn it if he didn't do it. yes, i disappointed myself, because i'm usually such an awesome dude. and i thought, wow, you stuck the landing, dude! you got every single one of them. now please go kill yourself. >> bill, when we come back after the break, we're going to talk about serious affairs of state. no tickle fights, none of that stuff. we'll be back with the serious stuff. we'll be right back with more
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here on "countdown." bill, after my tickle fight last friday night, as i always do, i watched your show, and new rules, you turned into a prude, suddenly. you want the president to quit smoking. you became mayor bloomberg on obama. what's the quit smoking bit with obama? >> well, it was tongue in cheek, lawrence, as you know. come on, do i have to tickle you to get you to laugh at this one? no, what i was -- you know, the point of the rule was that when
people quit smoking, day get angry. and i like my president angry, because, you know, considering how much in this country people are poisoned, ripped off and lala lied to, we should all be angry, but especially that guy, who has to deal with congress every day in trying to get this health care bill through and all that. and you know, i like him when he's out on the stump in sort of a partisan mode. i think his biggest mistake, that he has made, in his first year, was to out put bipartisanship ahead of fixing the country. he spent all his political capital on getting three damned vote for that stimulus bill instead of coming in with all the energy from the election and saying, you know what, we're in a crisis mode, i won this election by a sizable mandate, here's what we're going to do. if you don't like it, republicans, you can suck on it. >> he was back on the road today, bill, in st. louis. it was his 52nd, or maybe 53rd, speech on health care. what more can he do? i mean, no president's ever
given more speeches on one legislative subject like that before. >> well, there's nothing more he can do, because he's sort of made his bed already with the plan that they have. you know, i mean, again, i think he made a big mistake from the getgo, not supporting a public option and not standing up for that. because i don't believe this plan will make money the way that he say it will. they wussied out on the things that will actually be cost cutting. i don't believe that part of it. so he's stuck with this plan, which i think is -- it's not a great plan. i mean, yes, it accomplishes some things, and i guess i would call it a quarter loaf is better than none, but we asked this question on the show a couple of weeks ago. you know, 45,000 people die every year because they don't have health care. can you imagine if that many people were dying in iraq or
afghanistan? why is the that that's an impossibility in the country, that that many people can die, or in a terrorist attack, but it's okay that they die from a failing medical system? i don't know why they framed the debate the way they did, or rather, that they didn't. they should have framed it in a moral sense like that and they should have framed it for people who are more selfish thinking, that this is a -- that you are going to go broke. democrats need to use fear the way the republicans use fear. and it's true. i mean, health care costs keep going up. they should have scared the american people into thinking, look, i know you think you like the plan you have now, but it's going to slowly drown you in debt. he started out all wrong by saying, if you have -- if you like the plan you have, you can keep it. and everybody went, well, then what's the problem? why are we spending all this money? >> and bill, i think one of the problems of framing it, morally, for them was at the outset, they gave up the concept of universal coverage.
their bill, as they've designed it now, in its most optimistic form, would leave another 15 million, 20 million people without any insurance at all, and so all those same sob stories will exist after this bill takes full effect. so it seems like they couldn't really embrace the morality argument because in their moral choice, they were leaving out about half the people. >> yeah. they should have started with single payer. i mean, even if they weren't going to get it, it is what most other western democracies have. it's the one program that makes sense, but, okay, we live in a country that doesn't make sense. but at least start with that. during the campaign, obama said, if we were starting from scratch, single payer would make sense. well, then, let's start from scratch. that is kind of where we are in this country right now. and if they had started from that, then the fallback compromise position would have at least been the public option.
but they didn't even start with the public option. he didn't even defend that. so what you have here is probably more of a republican plan than the one that was on the table in '93 that the republicans were defending. >> bill maher, right again. that was my interview with legislative policy analyst bill maher of "realtime" on hbo. stand by, there's more from eric massa. the best of the former congressman's media tour. every politician's worst nightmare is a dream come true for "countdown." ♪ [ male announcer ] every business day, bank of america lends nearly $3 billion dollars to individuals, institutions, schools, organizations and businesses in every corner of the economy. america. ♪ growing stronger.
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to the top of the countdown next. a week ago, congressman eric massa was not a name known outside his upstate new york district. now he's everywhere. we'll take a look back at the week former congressman massa would really like to forget. staying well is easy with the new walgreens.com. quickly access your prescription history. automatically refill prescriptions for you and your family. get e-mail reminders when prescriptions are ready for pick-up.
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for the past 24 hours, the twists, turns, and tickles in the saga of eric massa have grabbed a stunned nation's attention. a congressman resigns, allegations of corruption, vicious tickle fights, wet, naked men, bunkmates breaking the boundaries, mix in a little glenn beck and larry king and this story has it all. for those of you on another planet since monday, here's all you need to know, so far, about the massa disasta. >> i was set up for this from the very, very beginning. >> democratic congressman eric massa of new york is resigning today from congress, after it was revealed that the house ethics committee is investigati investigating him for allegedly making inappropriate comments to
a male staffer. >> i grabbed the staffer next to me and said, what i should be doing is fracking you. >> i've been trying to track massa down all day. >> a lot of weird things coming from eric massa. >> do you know how awkward it is to have a political argument with a naked man? >> there is still something fishy about why a guy would resign if there's only one sexual harassment allegation. >> i, for the life of me, can't figure out why they took all the shower curtains off the shower stall in the congressional showers. >> massa says a dirty joke and he's pushed out? the democratic party are out to destroy this man. everything's starting to come undone. there is something going on, and it is really bad. the future of the republic is at stake. this is a moment that will decide the course of this nation, possibly. he's going to be with me for a full hour tomorrow. someone needs to expose the game and massa is doing it. >> not only did i grope him, i tickled him until he couldn't breathe and four guys jumped on top me. i grabbed a guy, i tousled his
hair. now they're say i groped a male staffer. yeah, i did. >> my name is at stake here. do you realize that my family is at stake? >> it's the whole -- >> don't have tickle fights in the navy. i've never been in the navy. i don't know what tickle fights. >> it looks like an orgy in caligula. the other part of it is corruption. you tell me something i don't know about corruption. name names. tell america what you know. you have talked about corruption. what's happening? tell us what you know. what, specifically did he do? tell me something about the unions and how the unions are -- any kind of corruption. is there arm twisting going on? did he threaten, harass, or intimidate? is there any specific? >> the most important thing that people can do is to get involved. i mean, it's that simple. >> no, no. >> and vote. >> you are in -- america, i'm going to shoot straight with you. i think i've wasted your time.
>> i want to do this interview one more and then go away. >> eric massa, hello. are you -- you are -- are you gay? >> here's that answer. i'm not going to answer that. >> at your 50th birthday party, you groped a male staffer. >> when four guys jump on you to wrestle you to prove that you're 50 years old, anything can be called anything. >> you admitted groping -- groping. you groped male staffers? >> no. >> you said you groped, so -- >> well, yeah -- >> so you did grope someone, right? there's no other way to define groping but sexual. groping is sexual. you said you groped someone. >> and here you go back to that -- >> who was a male. you're both in a gym, right? no women are there. you were nude too, right? >> i was in a shower. that's generally how i am. >> no shower curtain. so he's walking around nude. the fact that he's nude is immaterial. the fact that he didn't have clothes on and you were coming out of a shower is immaterial. >> well, terribly awkward. i mean, it's terribly